Tips On Tuesday - How To Use Carbon Paper

Here's a quick 'how to' on using carbon paper.

You will need:

  • A tracing wheel (ideally with a serrated edge)
  • Carbon paper
  • Your pattern pieces
  • Your fabric

    A few notes to begin with...

    Most packs of carbon paper will come with a few different colours. Pick a colour that you can see on your fabric, but that doesn't stand out too much. I've used a contrasting colour for the photographs here so it can be seen easily.

    The carbon paper has a wrong and a right side. The right side is the darker side (with the added colour for marking) and the wrong side is the white colour. The right side of the carbon paper is what you will place against the wrong side of your fabric for marking. 

    There are a few different options on the tracing wheel front, too. Ideally you need one with a sharp/serrated edge to make sure the markings are pressed clearly on to your fabric. If you are using delicate fabric it is advisable to test this first as you don't want to damage your fabric with the wheel (although the pattern will act as a barrier between the wheel and the fabric).

    There is also a double tracing wheel, like the one pictured below.  This is great if you are adding seam allowances to your pattern. You can move the wheels to set the desired seam allowance and trace around your pattern adding the seam allowance as you go. If you work with patterns and add your own seam allowance this could be your wheel.



    Make sure you protect your table before you begin. A cutting mat works well and so does a piece of corrugated card if you don't have a cutting mat.

    1. Attach your patten to your fabric in the usual way. I prefer to use weights to hold it down as it makes the next step easier. Make sure the wrong side of the fabric is facing towards you, touching the pattern pieces, as the markings should go on the wrong side of the fabric.

    2. Slide your carbon paper between your pattern and fabric with the right side of the carbon paper facing towards the fabric. If you've used pins you might have to move a couple.

    3. Take your tracing wheel and carefully 'wheel' over the pattern markings. This will transfer these markings to the fabric below. You could transfer the markings from around the edge of the pattern piece so it can be cut out once the pattern is removed. 


    4. Repeat this for the opposite side of the pattern. 

    It is worth noting that it's always wise to test any kind of making tool on the fabric you are using. Carbon paper markings should wash off in the washing machine, but it's always best to test how carbon paper performs on the particular fabric you are using. If you aren't planning on machine washing your garment then perhaps carbon paper isn't the tool for the job this time. That said, the markings should all be on the wrong side of the garment. 





    Check out our recent articles...

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.